Bahrain foreign minister: Qatar turned blind eye to King Salman’s initiatives
Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said on Sunday that Doha has not appreciated initiatives made by Saudi Arabia's King Salman’s towards the Qatari pilgrims going to Hajj this year.
The foreign minister added: “King Salman has had good intentions since the start of the crisis in regards to exempting Qatari pilgrims from any prohibitions [towards them entering Saudi Arabia], however this gesture has been met with Qatar turning a blind eye to the matter and abuse [of the gesture],” according to an official Bahrain News Agency report.
“We are not evil nor are we are not trying to insult anyone, however any insult directed towards Saudi Arabia is one directed towards Bahrain. We do not accept it and we will respond to it,” he added.
The minister made his remarks following news that Saudi Arabia's state carrier was unable to send planes to transport Qatari pilgrims to the kingdom because it had been unable to get permission to land at Doha airport amid a diplomatic dispute between the two countries.
Qatar and Saudi Arabia, along with three other Arab states, have been locked in a political row which severed transport ties to Doha in June, but Riyadh said last week it would facilitate the travel of Qataris for the annual haj pilgrimage.
Between 2 million and 3 million Muslims travel to Mecca each year for the pilgrimage - which every able-bodied Muslim has a duty to undertake at least once in their lifetime.
Along with reopening its land border with Qatar, Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday that King Salman had ordered the dispatch of a Saudi Arabia Airlines plane to fly Qatari pilgrims to Jeddah at his own expense so that they could go on to Mecca, Islam's holiest city.
However, the first flight has not been able to take off from Saudi Arabia because it had not yet received landing permission in Doha, said Saleh al-Jasser, the general director of the airline, according to Saudi state news agency SPA.
He said the airline had applied for landing permission several days ago.